Taking the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities Out Into the World

2013-2014 Issue 1

McGill has a distinguished history when it comes to promoting and protecting human rights, going back to the late McGill professor John Peters Humphrey, author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More recently, Dr. James Archibald, Director, Translation and Written Communication, has been instrumental in putting the right people together to produce various language versions of the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, which was hailed as a model by UNESCO when it was introduced in 2005. The ground-breaking legal document spells out fundamental values of respect for human dignity, equality, inclusiveness, tolerance and justice, as well as responsibilities, including exercising the right to vote and respecting the rights of others.

“It’s all about community engagement,” Archibald says. “The important thing is to underscore the efforts made by the city to engage citizens from different cultural communities – to make sure they understand their rights and responsibilities in an urban democracy.” At last count, there were upwards of 80 different languages spoken among people living in Montreal. The translation process started with the English version and has continued with Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin and most recently, Italian adaptations.

Next up: a Hebrew translation of the Charter.

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